LAUDERDALE LAKES (CBSMiami) – The Broward Sheriff Fire Department is celebrating the retirement of a special member of the team, who exemplifies community service.

Firefighters are known for their bravery, commitment, and readiness. For Ken Kronheim, retiring now as District Chief of Lauderdale Lakes, it is a lot more.

“If we run into a building and save people if we bring someone back who’s in cardiac arrest that’s kind of expected,” Kronheim said. “But having an ice cream giveaway, doing homework, people don’t expect that.”

As commander of the busiest fire station in the county, Station 37, he’s had an open door policy to the community, literally.

“I have a rule that I don’t like bay doors being closed. I want kids to see the fire trucks and come in for a glass of water and help with homework, which we do. We were doing birthday parties before COVID-19,  it was nothing new for us to be asked to stop by for a birthday party.”

Kronheim is one of those who realized his childhood dream, becoming at first a paramedic in New York, then moving to South Florida and joining Broward Fire, and working up the ranks.

He’s seen a lot, from paramedic, firefighter, lieutenant to captain and then the battalion chief.  He’s supervised a group of units including “everything from the division of training, to special ops to communications, and at Fort Lauderdale Hollywood International Airport.”

He’s been married nearly 10 years, is a proud dad and like all firefighters, he has two families- home and at this station. He will miss the camaraderie.

“When you can communicate without talking, you can clown around, that’s irreplaceable, that’s the thing that I am going to miss the most.”

Now, he’s closing the door on this chapter, and with decades of experience and a master’s degree in clinical psychology, working as a mental health counselor. He’s working with Fort Lauderdale Behavioral Health Center.

“I’ve been blessed to do something I’ve always wanted to do. Now it’s time for me to help the first responders and the military and it’s a way of giving back.”

Eliott Rodriguez